Risk Management Program Rule Finalized in Federal Register



On January 13, 2017, the final version of the Risk Management Program (RMP) Rule updates was published in the Federal Register (82 FR 4594).  The revised rule will become effective March 14, 2017, with the major changes in requirements becoming effective from one to five years after that effective date, as summarized below.  

Update 1/25/2017: On January 20, 2017, the new Administration signed a memo instituting a regulatory freeze pending review.  Because the RMP Rule was published in the Federal Register, the initial effective date will be temporarily delayed to March 21, 2017, but later compliance dates are not affected.

Rule ProvisionCompliance DateTriggered by an RMP reportable accident?
Third-party auditMarch 15, 2021Yes
Root Cause AnalysisMarch 15, 2021Yes, also by near miss
Safer Technologies & Alternatives AnalysisMarch 15, 2021No
Emergency Response Coordination ActivitiesMarch 14, 2018No
New Responding sites (68.95 requirements)Within 3 years of determination site is subject to 68.95No
Emergency response exercisesMarch 15, 2021No
Information sharingMarch 15, 2021Public meeting within 90 days of RMP reportable
Update RMPlanMarch 14, 2022No, but previous RMPlan correction requirements after RMP reportable still apply

Based on public comment, the following notable changes were made from the March 14, 2016 proposed rule (81 FR 13637):

Proposed changes that are deleted from the Final Rule:

  • Modification to the definition of "Catastrophic Release" that would have matched the definition of an RMP-reportable accident
  • Requirement for site to act as a "responding" site to releases of covered chemicals if emergency response coordination efforts can't confirm local response capabilities are sufficient or upon written request from LEPC or local emergency responders
  • Requirement to identify the root cause of an RMP-reportable accident and the site-specific Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) and certification to those standards, and confirmation of "response capabilities" in the site's online Risk Management Plan (RMPlan)
  • Impartiality requirement for third party auditor and team
  • Requirements for third-party audit reports to be maintained by the auditor for five years, available (draft) and submitted (final) to the agency
  • Requirement for a Professional Engineer (P.E.) as third-party auditor
  • Requirement for a field exercise within one year of an RMP-reportable accident
  • Requirement for chemical hazard information to be submitted to the LEPC or local emergency responders (now discussed within the section on emergency response coordination exercises)
  • Requirement for chemical hazard information to be updated annually and always available to the public; it must now be provided upon public request

Proposed changes that are modified in the Final Rule:

  • Root cause definition no longer includes the phrase "that identifies a correctable failure in management systems"
  • Third-party audit teams now have competency and independence requirements for Auditor (lead) and independence requirements for the Audit Team members.   Independence requirements cover the two (not three) years before and after the audit event.  Audit team can contain personnel from other firms and the facility.  Facility retirees may act as a third-party auditor or team member even if they receive retirement compensation
  • Third party audit reports must contain or reference the audit policies or procedures and only summarize significant revisions between the draft and final reports.  They are now due within 12 months of either the RMP-reportable accident or the final determination/appeal decision from the requiring agency.   Site must maintain only the two most recent final audit reports, related findings response reports, documentation of actions to address deficiencies, and related records.
  • Emergency response coordination requirements are clarified for non- and responding sources, still required at least annually for all sources.  Emergency response program is now reviewed and updated "as appropriate" instead of annually.  Response to an actual accidental release can be used as a coordination, tabletop, or field exercise if the associated response and exercise evaluation report requirements are met within 90 days of the event.
  • For responding sites, tabletop exercises are required at least every three years instead of annually and require discussions (instead of tests) of notification and emergency response steps, including equipment and contractor deployment
  • For responding sites, field exercise requirements are clarified and required at least every 10  (not five) years
  • RMPlan updates now only require date of most recent coordination, field, and tabletop exercise without a certification statement on the "response capabilities."  Non-responding sites must specify what mechanisms are in place to notify the public and emergency responders when there is a need for emergency response.
  • The site must provide ongoing notification on a company website, social media platform, or through other publicly accessible means a list of the type of chemical hazard information available and how to request it.  Chemical hazard information must be provided to the public within 45 days of a request.
  • Public meeting must be held within 90 (not 30) days of an RMP-reportable accident

For more information on the Final Rules or related PSM or RMP issues, plan to attend Trinity's Understanding and Application of RMP and PSM Requirements course by registering online here.  Or, contact Natalie VanLiew at (913) 894-4500 or nvanliew@trinityconsultants.com.